Israel is one of the United States’ only hopes for democracy in the Middle East, Democratic strategist Jimmy Williams told msnbc’s Thomas Roberts on Monday.
“[Israel] is the longest standing democracy in that region, frankly, and it is now defending itself pretty much every single day against a terrorist regime,” Williams said. “It is surrounded on all sides by people that don’t like them.”
Williams attributed the U.S. and Israel’s camaraderie to their shared belief in the right to defend themselves when under attack, despite the “bad blood” between Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and President Obama.
Israel also has time on its side—the U.S. has been an ally since the country’s inception in 1948.
The Jewish vote might be another factor in the Obama administration’s desire to maintain its relationship with Israel. Jewish Americans have a powerful lobbying interest, the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), and 69% of Jewish-American voters picked President Obama in 2012 (78% voted for the president in 2008).
Egypt’s role in the violence between Israel and Gaza is also directly tied to U.S. interests, as the United States gives Egypt approximately $2 billion in aid annually. Though there has been no indication that this aid will be revoked as of yet, U.S. lawmakers are warning Egyptians leaders to tread carefully and use their influence to stop the ongoing violence.